7 Top Materials for a Sustainable Interior in 2023

| Marta Kluk | Sustainability and Well-Being

With every year, we keep getting surprised about innovation in sustainable interior design materials. We love its creativity mostly inspired by nature. The use of sustainable materials has undeniably a large amount of benefits: smaller environmental impact, long-term savings on the operational costs and improved wellbeing of the residents. At A Designer At Heart, we invest our time in researching the latest innovations in this area. Every year we release a new post about our latest findings. You can check out our previous article here. Today we would like to share with you our current selection for 2023.

1. Zilenzio's Stone Wool

Zilenzo is one of our favourite brands for acoustic products. We have used its bespoke cloud-shape panels for the study room in one of our Nido projects in Copenhagen.

A Designer At Heart sustainable materials Nido House

Zilenzo panels are made of the stone wool, which is produced from 100% natural stone. It contains no plastic or other undesirable or irritating substances. Their stone wool is firesafe. It is basically incombustible [Fire Class A1]. It also has the best sound absorption properties. You can use it for the acoustic panels, either ceiling or wall based, but also as part of the integrated furniture as Zilenzo Focus Pods for example.

A Designer At Heart sustainable materials Zilenzo

2. Mater's Matek

Mater is a brand that we came across recently, but it caught our attention immediately. Mater is all about reusing the waste. They manufacture a range of furniture using fully recycled materials mainly focusing on chairs and stools.


 A Designer At Heart sustainable materials mater

 A Designer At Heart sustainable materials matek


Mater has innovated a unique material called Matek which combines fibre with a binder. They source fibre from industrial plastic waste, coffee shell waste, discarded fishing nets, beer kegs from Carlsberg etc. It’s a mix of materials results in a unique compound suitable for press moulding, which is typical in the furniture production. Their chair from the eternity collection is made of 4.300g coffee shell waste and recycled plastic waste for instance.

Additionally, Mater introduced the ‘Take Back” programme where you can give away your old furniture to produce new ones. Such a beautiful initiative to engage their audience into positive actions. Also, the Matek materials are designed to be recycled again and again using their innovative solutions to turn them into new designs. When you use one of their products, not only you are making a sustainable choice for the future but you are also saving waste from going to landfill. something to think about for our the ESG agendas which we have covered in one of our previous articles.

3. Miyuca pendants

This autumn-inspired material made the biggest impression on me. Have you ever thought about reusing autumn leaves to produce light fittings? Well… Miyuca did!

A Designer At Heart sustainable materials miyuca

This Italian brand was on a mission to find alternatives to plastic using natural products that surround them. They figured that they can “give a new life” to leaves. Apart from the leaves the material contains only natural additives and bio resins. For the additional plastic reduction, the ceiling rose and cable clamp are made out of metal. Each lamp is 100% handmade. Plus the coolest thing is that you can go for your autumn walk, pick the leaves yourself and send them to Miyuca so they can produce your bespoke pieces for you.

4. Gencork

We have seen use of cork before when it comes to sustainable materials. What differentiates Gencork from most cork products is the production process. They first bake the granulates and form a block of cork. They inject water vapour making the granules expand and form into blocks which means that the cork is only adhered by its own natural resins. Nothing is added! This particular process gives the material a distinctive dark color - elegant and chocolatey.

A Designer At Heart sustainable materials gencork

Gencork offsets their carbon footprint further by using the remaining biomass to fuel the block making process. They claim that the process is 95% energy self-sufficient. The material is suitable for commercial use when a special varnish is applied.

5. Organico

This material combines nature and technology - our favourite combination! Although it is just a prototype without real case use for now, we like to track the top edge technology as it happens. They are currently seeking for a collaboration to produce in an industrial scale, which can be used also for the commercial projects.

A Designer At Heart sustainable materials organico2

The product comes as a result of lots of research. Its a sandwich material consisting of hemp fiber as a finish and hemp shives as a core. An adhesive, made of calcium hydroxide and casein, is used to press those layers into solid forms. The material is very stable and light at the same time making it perfect for flexible furniture that you can easily move around. It’s organic shapes can also contribute positively to a wellbeing of the colivers. You can check out our article on wellbeing here. It can be used for variety of purposes - from chairs to a free standing acoustic panels. And we are sure more will come!

6. Duraocean

This material developed by ScanCom International reuses ocean plastic from the maritime industry to produce very eye catching chairs. They respond to one of the biggest problems we have today - 300 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. The chairs are made of 100% recycled maritime plastic input, mostly ropes, preventing it from entering the ocean. Additionally, the rest of the chair is made of a hard-wearing FSC™ Eucalyptus wood from Brazil. The chair can also be disassembled, allowing it to be recycled once again at the end of its lifecycle – key in this is no use of fibre glass in the DuraOcean® formula.

A Designer At Heart sustainable materials duraocean

7. Unilin MDF

MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) is already a pretty sustainable material as it's made out of reclaimed wood. Unilin decided to challenge the common material even further. Up till now, it was considered impossible to recycle MDF as the fibres were bonded together. Veronique Hoflack - President of Unilin herself - came up with an idea inspired by a pressure cooker from her kitchen. She found a way to reuse the bonded wood fibres by moistening the MDF board with steam, heated and put under high pressure so that the fibres detach. That process turns laminate and MDF into fibres again from which you can produce raw panels again. Unilin aspired to replace 25% of its products with recycled fibre which will allow for storing an additional 380,000 tons of CO2 per year.

We hope you enjoyed the read and hopefully got some inspiration. We are looking forward to the next year. Also, as we are very passionate about sustainable innovations, we will be posting regular updates about our latest findings on our LinkedIn profile, so please check it out! If you are a supplier feel free to reach out to share info about your products. We would love to hear from you.

Marta Kluk

Written by: Marta Kluk

Marta is an interior designer and BIM-coordinator at A Designer at Heart. Before becoming a full-time digital nomad, she worked in London for 6 years mainly designing office interiors. She travels around Europe living and working from different coliving spaces. She is passionate about the future of living and working, always striving for innovation and flexibility.


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